Thursday, February 14, 2013

Upcoming Convention: NecronomiCon Providence

By random chance I ended up sitting down with one of the organizers from NecronomiCon Providence at TempleCon. I happened to be wrapping up a game in a room he was setting up Cthulhu in and stuck around in the hopes of getting into the game. Unfortunately, none of his four signed up players showed up but we did spend an hour or two talking about NecronomiCon Providence.

I am a huge fan of Call of Cthulhu (CoC) the game and was already considering taking the drive to Rhode Island this summer. Providence is about 3 hours for me and driving to TempleCon convinced me this was doable (sometimes my back isn’t so great in long car rides). This conversation convinced me that this will really be a can’t miss event and I will probably book my trip this week!

NecronomiCon Providence will be held in the heart of Providence, RI the weekend of August 23-25. Overall the convention will offer literary options (panels, talks, workshops), gaming (anything Lovecraftian: CoC, Arkham Horror, etc) and external events. For the external events, they’re planning walking tours of Providence, film screenings, are considering a Pubcrawl, and even have a local brewery producing beer just for the event! Some of the CoC games will even be run by writers of previous CoC sourcebooks and modules! There are also going to be some interesting looking events including a Sunday morning Prayer breakfast as well as a number of Lovecraft themed parties.

Overall this seems like it will be an amazing time, right in the heart of Lovecraft’s hometown. I can’t wait!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gaming Table Report: Brushfire

For those who have never played (or heard of it), Brushfire is a wargame set on a planet populated by anthropomorphic animals. It parodies earth history and culture quite a bit (Agaminople is the capital of Scyzantine for instance. Or where as the New World on earth was named America after Amerigo Vespucci, the new world in Brushfire was named Vespuccia.) While some gaming buddies of mine have mentioned it before, I had never gotten to play it until TempleCon.

Rodentian Valkyrs and Trebuchets lined up agaimst me
Each nation (or region of the world) consist primarily of certain species of animals. So armies consist of bears, badgers, hamsters, gerbils, boars, pandas, dogs, etc. Our side of the fight was badgers and mongooses (both mongooses and mongeese are acceptable plurals) and the other side was split between an army of boars and an army of assorted rodents. We ran pretty much simultaneously two separate battles so I wasn't following too much what was going on next to us.

Three of the four of us had never played before, the fourth had only played a handful of times, and then only with small squads, never a 100pt army. In hindsight, we probably should have started before the staff from On the Lamb Games headed off to bed! (And unbeknownst to me, perhaps some of us should have read the rules first too!)

Our end of the battle
On our end, the rodents led off by hurling hamsters out of a trebuchet directly onto my Badger infantry shock troops. Both hamster shots landed directly on my troops and the squad’s leader managed to hold the hamster fear effects (after all who isn't afraid of rabid dual axe wielding hamster berserkers?) at bay long enough to cut them up pretty badly. While the hamsters went down pretty easy (no armor) those who survived hit back pretty hard with their axes.

In the mean time my mongoose legionnaires traded rifle fire with the gerbil steampunk mechs managing to take one out and wounding a second fairly severely by the end of the battle. Out of hamster ammo, the mice turned to boulders to arm their trebuchets and began firing into melee. Yes, you read that correctly, “firing into melee”. [Note: there are rules in Brushfire for firing into melee, but these assume handheld weapons!]  Boulders hit everything in a 5” diameter with rules for scatter based on how far you are firing. Shots went off the board, fells short and killed their own rodent general, and bounced harmlessly off the backs of their gerbil powered mechs!

By the end of the night the mechs were fleeing, one of the two trebuchet crews was under fire and too decimated to fully man their siege engine and the hamster berserkers were all dead. My clawed badgers we rushing to come to the aid of their badger/mongoose comrades at the other end of the table (who were getting cut to pieces by rampaging boar heavy cavalry) when we called the game for the night.

Overall Brushfire was a blast! Before bed I read through their quick play rules and definitely look forward to playing again!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gaming Con Review: TempleCon

Spent the weekend at TempleCon in Warwick, RI and it was a blast!

Wargame Room at TempleCon 2013
We drove up from NJ on Thursday night to avoid trying to get around NYC traffic Friday morning. While the convention ‘officially’ started at 12pm on Friday, there were already people gaming Thursday night when we arrived at the hotel (around midnight). The main wargame room was already set up with over 100 terrain covered tables and a good number of battles were already taking place.

TempleCon is primarily a SteamPunk and Wargame convention but there were also plenty of other things to do. Multiple companies were running demo games including Cool Mini of Not, On the Lamb Games, Greenbrier Games, and Steve Jackson games. There were numerous Steampunk events/vendors, a retro video game room (including both consoles and actual arcade games in their original cabinets), a boardgame room, panels, live entertainment (including Shadowcasted movies/tv shows ala Rocky Horror) and RPGs (actual strong ROLE playing systems with very little D&D/Pathfinder on the schedule).

Brushfire by On the Lamb Games at TempleCon
Friday afternoon I played Dungeon Petz and then Friday evening after dinner we decided to play a team game of Brushfire (by On the Lamb Games) [helpful hint, at least one of us should have read the rules before trying to play a new game!]. [I’ll post a gaming table report of this later.]

On Saturday, there were no other players for the Cthuhlu game I signed up for. Saturday afternoon I demo’ed Zpocolypse (Greenbrier Games) and played some old retro video games (Galaga, SpyHunter and 1943) in their original arcade cabinets (one of the ballrooms was quite convincingly turned into a small arcade complete with blaring 80s/90s music. [I did quite well at Galaga and 1943, though I don’t recall being that terrible at SpyHunter!]

Sunday morning, again there were no players for the 10am Cthulhu game (and this time no GM either) but the other event in the room was a boardgame playtest that I jumped into. (We played twice and discussed rules / changes for two hours.) Since it is still in playtest, I won’t say more about it, but it was fun.

Retro Video Game Arcade Room at TempleCon
At noon, a Cthulhu GM was setting up in the room (along with the weekend’s only D&D game) but no one showed up for the Cthulhu game (else I would have jumped in). It turns out this GM is one of the organizers of NecronomiCon Providence and we spent over an hour discussing their upcoming convention (I’ll post more about this later, but I do recommend checking this con out!). I finished out the day with some open gaming in the boardgame room and demo areas (including Zombie Dice, Cthulhu Dice, Zombicide and Tsuro) before heading home.

[Quick note on Zpocolypse vs. Zombicide. The Zombicide demo was actually a bit too short to get more than a taste of the game but I think I like it better than Zpocolypse. Zpocolypse is a cooperative game but it is won based on a scoring track. The game is stacked against the players and by day four you should all be dead (we only played one day which took maybe an hour). I think the fact that as a team we can’t beat the game takes away from any victory I might have by scoring the most points. Since the scenarios in Zombicide are winnable even without a clear cut winner among the players I still think it the better game. Then again, I’m still reaching for Pittsburgh ’68 as my go-to Zombie game!]

While I had a great time, there were two minor issues at the con. The first issue does indeed have a very big upside so I'm hesitant to bring it up. Most of the RPGs at the con were in individual suites/conference rooms scattered throughout the hotel. While it is awesome to have a nice quite room to game in, the downside is, if there weren't enough players for a game, being spread out made checking other games for open seats fairly daunting. Perhaps a central RPG marshaling area would help with this in the future (because having a private room is way too good to pass up).

The second minor issue was that this year they decided to skip printing programs and go paperless. There were QRcodes linking to their website posted around the con, but their website took too long to load as it had lists of events with their full descriptions (that didn’t display until the entire page loaded). Not to mention, the wireless in the hotel got bogged down at times and there was no 3G coverage in the basement (where a number of RPGs were) so it wasn't always easy to get the information needed to find a game. The site also had no central overall grid/summary nor did it have a map of the con.

It would have been helpful to have a program (even if only as a .pdf so I could download it to my phone once and others could print their own copy if they lacked a smart phone) rather than a web page. By Saturday there was at least a list at registration and a map from 2012 appeared late on Saturday but even these were hard to read and required knowing that they were there. Hopefully they’ll at least provide a grid and map next year.

All-in-all though, it was a great weekend with lots of great gaming!

Be sure to check our game convention list to find other great local cons!

Friday, February 1, 2013

February Update

I scheduled this post automatically for this morning as we should already be at TempleCon for the weekend. In January, we found (or had submitted) 27 additional game conventions bringing our total to well over 500!

Here are the newly listed cons:

New Zealand / Australia Game Convention List:

  • Wellycon (June ?-?, Wellington, New Zealand)

Canada Gaming Conventions:

  • Phantasm (April 6-7, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)
  • Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo (June 8-9, New Westminster, BC, Canada)

Germany Game Con Calendar:

  • Bremer Spiele-Tage (March 2-3, Bremen, Germany)
  • Ratingen Spieletage (March 23-24, Ratingen, Germany)
  • Darmstadt Spielt (November 23-24, Darmstadt, Germany)

Games Con List for the UK:

  • Play Expo (October ?-?, Manchester, UK)

US Games Cons:

Capital Region Gaming Cons:

  • T-Mode (April 19-21, Rockville, MD)

Great Lakes Game Con Calendar:

  • AnCon (May 2-5, Hudson OH)
  • DaveCon (August ?-?, Okemos, MI)
  • GrandCon (September 21-22, Grand Rapids, MI)
  • Gamehole Con (November 1-3, Madison, WI)
  • WindyCon (November ?-?, Lombard, IL)
  • WinterCon (December ?-?, Okemos, MI)

New York Gaming Cons:

  • No Such Convention (NonCon) (February 22-24, Poughkeepsie, NY)

Mountain Region Games Con List:

  • GalaxyFest (February 7-10, Colorado Springs, CO)
  • ConsimWorld Expo (CWE) with MonsterGame.CON (May 27 – June 2, Tempe, AZ)
  • Classic Gaming Expo (August ?-?, Las Vegas, NV)

California Gaming Conventions:

  • AOD (February 16-17, San Francisco, CA)

South Atlantic Gaming Convention List:

  • SwampCon (January ?-?, Gainesville, FL)
  • Siege of Augusta (January ?-?, Augusta, GA)
  • Spring Fever (April ?-?, Raleigh, NC)
  • StormCon (July 13-14, Summerville, SC)
  • Southern Front (October ?-?, Raleigh, NC)

South Central East Region Games Convention Calendar:

  • Alabama Phoenix Festival (May 24-26, Birmingham, AL)

Upper Midwest Game Cons:

  • G.A.M.E. [Gaming Arts Media Expo] (October ?-?, Springfield, MO)